Erwin Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures are a unique moment in the artist’s catalog, a comical application of the artist’s subversive wit. Transferring his patently absurdist utilizations of domestic commodities and subjects onto the human form, the works take his nuanced eye for the more unique forms and signifiers mass production and late capitalism, and apply them towards an immediate interaction with the human body. Through his works in the series, Wurm deconstructs use and value as essentially productive elements of consumption, and then turns the intersection of actor and object into an inherently useless situationism.
Wurm’s sense of the surreal, transposed from raw material back onto the human body, makes his current exhibition at the MAK Center’s Schindler House an impressively engaging proposition. Spread across the modernist floor plan of the home, Wurm’s various prompts, scribbled against the base of each work, negotiates a space between performance and readymade, one which the viewer themselves must activate, all while challenging notions of spatial alignment and focus on the house itself. The show demands continued passages through the space, and benefits from increased numbers of visitors, making sculptures more likely to suddenly activate. Strangers pose with a pink stuffed animal wrapped around their head, or navigate through a stretched out sweater, breathing a new life into the empty home. Yet at the same time, visitors catch each other as much in performance as they do in cognition, watching themselves or others decide on how or whether to engage with each piece.
This sense of performance, particularly a sense of performance of a deconstructed consumption of objects, works quite well in conjunction with the Schindler House itself. Each compartment of the snaking, sun-filled home welcomes the activation of its passages and spaces, often bounding performances in small chambers or framing them in slatted windows. These objects, in their reanimated lives as performative prompts, fit the quietly uninhabited grounds of the Schindler House quite well. bringing the human form back into engagement with its architecture, yet only as a site of display and momentary posing. The home, through Wurm’s work, becomes something of a prop in and of itself, one which has transformed from a site of lived humanity to a strictly material exhibit, and which is turned again into a site for a strangely foreign series of utilities. For Wurm, the action itself seems to define the act of use. Presented here, the impact on surrounding space can be quite tangibly felt.
One Minute Sculptures is on view through March 27th.
— D. Creahan
Erwin Wurm at MAK Center [Exhibition Site]